Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Had It's Ups and Downs

The hardest and most heartbreaking was the loss of our grandson, Christopher. He succumbed to a horrible cancer. Because he visited with us when he was a youngster and lived with us off and on as an adult, we were very close to him.  He lived the last years of his life with his mother and step-dad, and came to visit several times.

Another hard and difficult event was the deduction of hubby's military disability from 100% to 10%. We appealed, he had another physical and the disability was raised to 40%. We should have been happy, right? No, because for some crazy reason, they deducted the 40% from his retirement pay, which made our income even less than before. Plus, now we don't get the veteran's disability cut in our property tax.

We have written to our legislator--but heard nothing yet. How crazy is that? 

He's so upset, he said if he'd known what would happen he'd never have stayed in the Navy for 20 years--he missed out on a lot of family life--to say nothing of risking his life during 3 tours in Vietnam during the war.

He had a health scare too, at the beginning of the year, and ended up with a pace maker. His knees have gotten terribly painful, he walks with two canes and at times uses a walker. When he went to a specialist about getting a knee replacement, he was told that it isn't just arthritis causing his problems, he's very bow-legged, and his knees are not normal. A replacement is not recommended.

I'm doing okay--just much slower. And yes, I"m still writing and enjoying it. Certainly, I don't make a much money doing it, but it is satisfying.

The publisher of my Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries fell ill during the summer, and has moved to Illinois to recuperate. She is a friend and I'm praying for a full recovery for her.

Good things have happened too. One of our granddaughters and her hubby have become joint owners of our house, which is helping with the bills. It's also great having them and their two little girls around. They give us lots of joy.

Our daughter Lisa is so generous about driving us places where we want to go but don't want to drive to anymore. She's been our driver to Ventura for the PSWA board meeting,  to Las Vegas for the annual conference, to Murrieta and Camarillo to visit relatives. She also driven me to various events near and far. 

A grandson we have had no news about for years got in touch with us through email. The last time we saw him he was 3 years old. He lives in Nebraska and we have another great-grandson from him.

We had a surprise great-great grandbaby this year, a surprise to everyone including the mom, and news of another coming in 2017 as well as another great-great. 

The blessings definitely out weigh the difficulties. 

Looking forward to a brand new year!


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yesterday was Son Mark's Birthday

After having two girls, our first son, Mark, was born 3 days after Christmas. When I finally went into labor, I wouldn't leave the house to go to the hospital until after Perry Mason was over. Hubby wasn't happy about that--but he was thrilled when he learned we'd finally had a son.

The above photo is of Mark right before multiple myeloma took him from  us. He's with his big sister, Dana. We took Mark with us to church camp and he had a wonderful time.

Of course his birthday reminds of us our loss, but also wonderful memories of Mark.

In this photo he is still feeling pretty good. He did love the beach and the ocean. 

This is a great photo because he was happy and healthy when this was taken. He's with his two step-daughters and his wonderful wife Leah. 

He was a fun little boy too.

He loved to go to the beach--we lived close to Oxnard and Hueneme beaches. He could go to sleep anywhere--even on the warm sidewalk--which he did often.

Not everything went well for Mark--he had a first marriage that didn't work out. He had a son from that marriage but his ex took the boy away when he was 3 and Mark never saw him again. This past year, his son has contacted me through email, I wish it had happened sooner so Mark could have seen his son.

Things changed for him when he met Leah and married and accepted her three kids as his own. He loved those children so much and they loved him. He became a grandpa, and loved his granddaughters too and at his memorial service, one of them said Mark was the best grandpa ever.

Mark never had many material things but he appreciated everything he did have and never envied anyone.

He could always sing, sang in the school choir and in the church choir as an adult. He was also an accomplished artist. He worked with adults with developmental disabilities in several different jobs--bus driver, camp counselor, job coach, and staff in a small adult facility. He loved the people he worked with.

Though his life was cut short, while he was here he lived life abundantly.

Because he loved the Lord, I know I'll be reunited with him in Heaven.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Post Christmas

We celebrated Christmas Eve with some of our family. Unfortunately, our two great grands were sick, though this is a pretty good photo of them with their parents.

Unfortunately, though I charged my phone, I forgot to take any pictures and we had two other great grands here for dinner and the big present opening. 

The littlest one liked one of the boxes best.

The next morning, hubby and I headed to church and feasted on homemade biscuits and gravy.

I taught Sunday School, and yes, I had 3 kids, and attended the church service with hubby. As usual, Pastor Brandon (another great-grandson) did a great job.

Back home, we had leftovers for dinner.

In the afternoon, we had a visit from grandson, Nathan and his wife Amanda. We'll soon have another great-grandson from them. So much fun talking with them.

The two little ones continue to be sick with this awful flu.

My sister called me yesterday and we had a great long chat. I miss her. She used to live close and we did lots of things together, especially holidays. She's now in Vegas, near most of her children and grandchildren. I get to see her once of twice a year.

I only got half way back to normal yesterday. Worked in the a.m. and actually finished my book--first draft--now have to go back over it and catch all the mistakes and missing things.

Looking back, though except for the sick kids, it was a most enjoyable Christmas.

I hope your had a great holiday!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas to one and all!

To all of you who celebrate Christmas, my wish for you is that it will be filled with love, family and friends--and many, many blessings.

Our Christmas Eve will be spent with some of our family--sharing dinner and a few gifts and lots of love and joy. We have so many little ones, that always adds to the fun.

Christmas Day we'll go to church as usual--I'll teach Sunday School if I have any kids to teach.
Some will have spent the night and I know my daughter (the senior preacher's wife) has purchased gifts for the kids who wake up at the church. Should be fun.

We'll have leftovers for dinner with whoever decides to join us.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Another Christmas Memory

For 23 years we owned, operated and lived in a licensed residential facility. (It's the same house we live in now.) We shared out lives and our home with six developmentally disabled women. We had four for the longest time, others came and went for various reasons.

Whatever was going on with our family, weddings, big family birthday parties, church events, trips to Disneyland, community events, they were a part of it. And that meant Christmas too.

On Christmas Eve some of our family came over and we all had a present or two to open, including our ladies. 

Christmas morning was the big event. When the gals got up and dressed and came to breakfast, they were always greeted with a huge pile of gifts. Our goal was to make it as wonderful as our kids' Christmas back in the early days.  They were always so excited! Of course they received new clothes, often videos, games, and if they had a special hobby or interest, something they would like. 

Picking out, buying and wrapping all those gifts was a chore--but oh was it worth it on Christmas morning. When family members dropped by, they were eagerly shown what they received.

I feel so blessed to have these memories among all the other Christmas memories.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Memories Part II

I graduated from high school in 1951 and got married that same year. The kids started coming soon after.

When we lived in Oxnard we sometimes we celebrated Christmas at my parents' house in Los Angeles, driving down with our station wagon loaded with kids and gifts.

One year my third child was over due and my folks, grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousin, came to our little house in Oxnard with gifts and part of the Christmas dinner. I cooked the turkey. Baby arrived 3 days later.

A Christmas when hubby was overseas, I ordered all the kids' presents from a catalog--my credit was denied and I had no gifts. We went early to mom's and she gave me $25 and I was able to buy gifts for all the kids. (Might have only had 3 at the time but still the money sure went a lot further than it does these days.)

I worked off and on as a telephone operator, and one Christmas I had a split shift. I left before anyone was up. When I came home, we all went out to dinner (only time we ever did that), and then I went back to work.

We moved to Springville, where we live now, and owned a residential facility, and had 6 more women to buy gifts for. My sister also moved to Springville along with her grown kids, and we drew names and had a big celebration at our house.

Christmas Day the ladies we took care of had their big Christmas and oh, did they enjoy it--and the big dinner that followed.

We retired and now we celebrate Christmas Eve with a small part of our family and have our dinner before we open gifts. Christmas Day is much quieter and we enjoy the leftovers.

Christmas is almost here. Enjoy the time with your family.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Memories (Gifts) Part I

Christmas when I was growing up was always a big event.

I don't remember when I was real little and only bits and pieces of other years.

What I do remember is this:

We lived in Los Angeles, between Glendale and Eagle Rock. 

Those first Christmasses were during WW II years.

We (my younger sister and I) always got our presents on Christmas morning. No matter how early we awoke (very early) we couldn't go in the living room until our parents were ready for us to go. What excitement when we were first allowed in.

Christmas gifts I remember:

One of the early gifts was a Shirley Tempe doll with a china head and a wicker doll carriage. She got broken when I took the doll outside in the carriage after being told not to.

A two-story doll house my dad built and the furniture made by my aunt.

A two-wheel bicycle also made by my dad--during the war bicycles were not for sale for various reasons. I know he made the bicycle out of pipes (he was a plumber), where he got the other parts and tires I have no idea. He made a bike for my cousin too.

Story book dolls. A new one every year. Got one on my birthday too.

Nancy Drew mysteries.

An angora sweater that I wore Christmas Day even though it was about 80 degrees outside.

We always went to my maternal grandparents for Christmas Dinner and more presents. Grandmother wouldn't let us wash or dry her precious China. After dinner we loved to walk up Grand Avenue and peek in at all the mansions along the way.

Tomorrow I'll write about other Christmasses as an adult.


Friday, December 16, 2016

CHANGES by Lois Winston

Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

I totally disagree. My life has been a series of changes, some precipitated by me, some thrust upon me. Circumstances change, situations change, we change to adapt to these changes. The only thing that is certain in our lives is uncertainty. As Old Blue Eyes said, you can be riding high in April, shot down in May. (And when was the last time you read a blog post that mentioned both Leo Tolstoy and Frank Sinatra?)

My path to publication was anything but instantaneous. It took me a decade –  almost to the day that I first sat down to write – to sell my first novel, Talk Gertie To Me, a humorous take on the relationship between a mother and daughter. Along the way I learned quite a bit about both writing and the world of publishing, so much so that shortly after I sold Talk Gertie To Me, the agency that reps me invited me to join them as an associate. Within the span of a few months I went from being an unpublished writer to a published author and a literary agent. Huge changes.

As any published author will tell you, selling a book is no guarantee of sales of future books. After the publication of my first book and my option book, the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, I made the decision not to publish any more books with that publisher. This was one of those take-a-deep-breath-and-do-what-you-know-you-need-to-do changes.

Unfortunately, the publishing industry was also changing at this time, and publishers were hot for books in genres other than the ones I wrote. “Hot” being the operative word here as erotica and erotic romance were becoming all the rage.

At the suggestion of my agent, I began to write a crafting mystery. Another change for me. Although I had spent most of my adult life as a designer in the consumer crafts industry, I’d never considered writing a crafting mystery. Actually, I’d never considered writing any mystery. But I gave it a shot, and the result was Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in what was to become my critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. I also discovered that mystery was where I belonged as a writer.

But this wasn’t the end of the changes, either for me or the publishing industry. Many authors were beginning to have success with independent publishing, both with their backlists and never-before-published works. Once upon a time the thought of self-publishing would never have occurred to me. However, I was sitting on two out-of-print backlist books and several manuscripts that had received rejections, not due to the writing but for being the wrong manuscripts at the wrong time. So a few years ago I took the indie plunge and self-published those books.

The publishing world continued to change, unfortunately not for the better. Mergers led to authors not being offered new contracts. Those who were lucky enough to be offered new contracts were shocked by some of the terms publishers were insisting on in those contracts. At the time I had been offered a second contract for more books in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series and a contract for a second series. But I wasn’t happy with some of the terms of the new contracts. My gut was sending me warning signals. I took a deep breath and did what I knew I needed to do—I walked.

It wasn’t an easy decision to go it alone. I took a leap of faith and hoped for the best. However, sometimes we just need to go with our gut. Since making the decision to walk away from traditional publishing, there are days when I’m happy with my decision and days when I’ve second-guessed myself. In the end though, the happy days have far outweighed the unhappy ones. After all, t’s extremely empowering and liberating to have some sense of control over one’s own destiny.

Literally Dead is the second book in my Empty Nest Mystery series. Definitely Dead was the first book in the series. This is the series for which I had been offered a contract but decided against signing. It’s also my homage to the classic Thin Man movies but with a modern day spin.

Literally Dead
An Empty Nest Mystery, Book 2

After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.

With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.

Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring husband Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.

Buy Links

About the Author

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog,

Follow everyone on Pinterest at and onTwitter at

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cornwall--Land of Mystery by Carola Dunn

Cornwall has been a mysterious place since the Phoenicians sailed beyond the Pillars of Hercules to buy tin and gold from the misty land of rugged cliffs, moors, and hidden harbours. Until the advent of modern transportation, the easiest access was by sea, and that was by no means easy as thousands of shipwrecks attest. It was a haven for smugglers and wreckers.

My first visit to Cornwall was at the age of eight. My godmother rented a field from a farmer and parked a caravan, high on a hillside looking west over the Atlantic between two rocky headlands, Cambeak and Penkenna. We stayed there every summer and many Easter holidays for a couple of decades. From there we explored the North Coast, the sandy coves, fishing villages, and Bodmin Moor, now the setting of my Cornish mysteries.

In the meantime, my sister moved to the southern side of the duchy, to a minuscule hamlet on the River Tamar, north of Plymouth. Just upstream is Cotehele, a medieval fortified manor beautifully preserved by the National Trust.

The first time I saw Cotehele, I knew I had to set a book there. At the time I wrote Regencies. The result was Smugglers' Summer. I managed to weave some of the legends of the house into my story, and then added an imaginary secret tunnel, though otherwise I described the house accurately.

When I came to write Mistletoe and Murder, my 11th Daisy Dalrymple mystery, also set at Cotehele, I simply couldn't resist using the secret tunnel I'd invented.

Daisy's adventures take place all over England, but I really wanted to return to beautiful Cornwall. I also wanted, after many years writing about young women (Daisy manages to stay in her 20s for 22 books!), to have a protagonist nearer my age.

The result is the Cornish mysteries, set around 1970, featuring Eleanor Trewynn, a widow in her 60s. After a life of globe-trotting diplomacy in aid of an international charity, Eleanor has retired to a Cornish fishing village. She can't imagine anywhere more peaceful to settle after her adventurous life.

Peace is not her lot, however. The tentacles of crime reach even into the placid Cornish countryside. Eleanor's talent for diplomacy—and a few tricks she learned on her travels—turn out to be unexpectedly useful when she's faced with villains of every stripe.

US cover-- wrong!

UK Cover--correct!
Those who worked with her in the past have not forgotten her skills. At the beginning of Buried in the Country, the latest book in the series, a government official begs her to assist at a secret conference attempting to reconcile two antagonistic African parties. In the depths of rural Cornwall, he hopes, the meeting those who want to scuttle the conference won't find it.

In a howling gale blowing rain off the Atlantic, even Eleanor's niece, Detective Sergeant Megan Pencarrow, has trouble finding the place. Her job is to deliver one of the participants and then provide security. She's also looking for a missing person, a lawyer. When a couple of villainous types turn up, are they spies? Did the solicitor flee to escape them? Is the supposedly respectable solicitor a spy?

Whatever is going on, Megan has to combine coping with attempting to keep her aunt out of trouble. In vain. Eleanor gets involved, and—apart from a murder or two—thanks to her everything is sorted out to everyone's satisfaction

Except her unfortunate host, whose conference tumbles in ruins about his ears.

The storm; the sunny day that follows, tempting people out of doors; the grey overcast turning to fog as it meets high ground; the cliffs of Tintagel; the maze of narrow lanes; Bodmin Moor with its deadly bogs, abandoned mines, towers of  boulders heaped by legendary giants: these are essential to the plot. Without them, it would be a different story.

Bio: Carola Dunn is the author of 26 mysteries and 32 Regencies. She was born and grew up in England but has lived in the US for many years, at present in Oregon. Her favourite activities are gardening, reading, and walking the dog. She has two grandchildren and cannot believe one is a teenager. Where did the years go?

Kirkus review:
Buried in the Country
Minotaur, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-04703-8
"The rewards of this entertaining cozy include characters with depth, an interesting bit of history, and an exciting chase through the moors."

The Cornish Mysteries:
Manna from Hades
A Colourful Death
Valley of the Shadow
Buried in the Country



Monday, December 12, 2016

The Case of the Stolen Case by Carl Brookins

IT’s been so warm this fall some of our routines have been seriously disrupted. For example, this morning, very early, I crawled through the raised garden at the end of our garage to reach the eaves over the door to the basement. I had noted the previous day the gutter was filled with oak and maple leaves. So I cleaned out the gutter. That usually happens in late October or early November!

Whilst cleaning I recalled that my wife had suggested it was time—past time – to mix up my annual batch of spaghetti sauce. Especially since we had recently used up the last jar of last year’s batch, and would I please make it a little sweeter and not so spicy hot this year. That’s a nod to our aging tastes.

And then, she continued, since you like meat chili so much, try cooking up a batch. That suggestion comes from a recent book event. Grand Master Ellen Hart and I made a presentation to a large and enthusiastic bunch of readers a few weeks ago. We were helping a small Wisconsin town with its annual fund-raiser for the library. They served chili. Wonderful, tasty chili. I raved and my wife urged me to cook some. Workin’ on it.

While cleaning the leaves from the gutter, I began to consider what supplies I might need from the grocery store. I decided to cook upon finishing the gutter, but I needed a hooked tool, like the head of an old cane, I thought. That reminded me of the elaborate and valuable cane I encountered a few weeks ago in Wisconsin. It was in the hands of a stooped, gnarled older gentleman. Knowing a bit about canes, I recognized that this Wisconsin cane was seriously valuable and I also realized that the cane and its owner could appear in a future story. 

Later in the kitchen while browning the hamburger and opening cans of tomato sauce, preparing to cook the sauce for a day, the voice of the old cane came to me and I learned how its silver-clad tip had once been sullied by a previous owner. He’d dented the skull of a rival farmer, a farmer who died that day on the boardwalk. I diced onion, sprinkled spices and opened cans of sauce, tasting the cold juice to be sure it was still good. But I also heard the voice of the cane as it explained to me what it felt, the jolt and the tremor when the silver nob cracked the skull and killed that other man. The cane never forgot, it said.

I salted, tasted, minced and fried, and then, as the voice of the cane inside my head faded, set the big pot to the warming part of the stove to cook all day. I needed supplies for the chili I would create and needed to find out how the cane had survived all those years with the blood of the victim still secreted in the crevices of the wooden stick.

This all has nothing directly to do with my latest release The Case of the Stolen Case, in which Sean is drawn more deeply than he wants into an old unsolved murder, but it does have to do very much with the way some of us conjure up our stories. Happy reading. 

Bio and links for Carl Brookins:

Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.

He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.


Buy links:
The Case of the Yellow Diamond

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Special Offer

A special offer--for the price of postage, $6.50, I'll send you the first three books in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series at no cost: 

Deadly Omen, Intervention and Wing Beat. 

(The actual 2nd one, Unequally Yoked, is only available from the publisher: Mundania Press and regular outlets.)

Send a check to me, at PO Box 526, Springville CA 93265. (USA addresses only, please.) Or you can use Pay Pal, message me on Facebook and I'll send my email address.

Tempe helps with the investigation of a murder at a Pow Wow.

What Tempe and her husband Hutch planned as a romantic getaway becomes something else when a white-out blizzard snows them in and one of the other guests is missing.

A pot farm hidden away in the mountains and a mysterious death keep Tempe busy.

Each of these books have a bit of Indian mysticism in them.

I'll autograph them, and if you want them personalized in a certain way, let me know.


Friday, December 9, 2016

The Challenges of Publishing and Marketing the Second Novel by Sue McGinty

What about the publishing aspect of your second novel?

“Murder in Los Lobos” was first published by Fithian, a co-op publisher who understood my needs and insecurities and were wonderful to work with in every way. John and Susan Daniels, the publishers, gave me a leg up in the writing world that I’ll always be grateful for. The book sold very well and continued to do well after the Fithian publishing rights expired (after almost eight years) and I repubbed it with CreateSpace. 

This is a bit off-topic, but why did you decide to go with self-publishing on CreateSpace?

I like the creative control—I now even design my own covers—and I choose the font size and interior format I prefer. And I absolutely love the price Amazon charges me for author copies as I hand-sell many of my books at presentations, craft fairs, and other events.

I now have all four titles with CreateSpace and I’m planning to publish the fifth with them as well. Their services suit my marketing plan well. 

I understand that “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach,” was first published by a small traditional publisher. How was that experience?

Unfortunately, it was not a happy marriage for either of us. They are reputable, that was not the problem, but they had a different business model that didn’t fit with my marketing plan. I’d say if you choose a traditional publisher, take a good hard look at their business model and see if it fits with your own. Also, ask other authors from the same house about their publishing experiences before you sign on the dotted line. 

Finally, what about marketing the second book?

Marketing is always the hardest part for me and that was doubly true for “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach.” Besides the challenges of dealing with a publisher whose business plan didn’t match my own, I had to expand my selling horizons via social media (which is changing constantly), word of mouth, guest blogging, and personal appearances. A lot of the marketing was done for me for “Murder in Los Lobos.” Now I had to do my own.  

I’ve found that like all endeavors, some things pay off, or are not worth the time and effort, or just plain fizzle. Take events for instance. At some presentations, people crowd around the selling table and scoop up books. At others, they can’t head for the door fast enough. Go figure.

How would you sum up your experiences, not only with a second novel but with all subsequent ones?

Well, I know from talking to other writers that my experiences are pretty much the norm. You just have to keep plugging, chase away the bad monkey when he sits on your shoulder, compare experiences with other writers in your genre, and be flexible about changing your writing, publishing, and marketing agenda if things are working for you . 

Let me leave you with this. Writing a novel is a very empowering experience. I feel if I can write and publish a novel, I can do just about anything.

Links you may like:\\


With little more than an urge to hang out at the beach, write mystery novels and calm a cat experiencing his first car ride, Sue McGinty left Los Angeles June 17, 1994, the same day OJ Simpson took his infamous ride. Unlike OJ, Sue had a destination in mind: the Central Coast hamlet of Los Osos. Not the Cabot Cove of “Murder She Wrote,” but close.

Her California Central Coast mysteries include:
“Murder in Los Lobos,”
“Murder at Cuyamaca Beach,” and
“Murder in Mariposa Bay.”

Her new release, “Murder in a Safe Haven,” takes Bella back to Detroit, her hometown, for new

Sue’s short fiction has also been featured in four Sisters in Crime Central Coast chapter anthologies.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Second Novels are Murder by Sue McGinty

Hi Marilyn, thanks for hosting me today. I’m going to answer your questions about getting that second novel off the ground.

What were your assumptions when you started your second novel, “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach?”

Like most writers with a successful first novel, I assumed the writing, publication, and marketing of my second Bella Kowalski California Central Coast (5 adjectives, count ‘em!), mystery would be a cinch. I was wrong on all counts.

How was the writing process itself?

I assumed that because I’d written one novel, the second would be faster and easier. If anything, it was harder. Novels are like children, they don’t all behave the same way. Some let you sleep peacefully all night long, others keep you up all night. The challenges I faced with my recalcitrant child, “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach” were: Choosing a different location on the Central Coast that fit story's plot, creating a believable plot with means, method, and motivation, and how much backstory to include from the first novel, “Murder in Los Lobos.” 

The biggest challenge was revealing another side of Bella’s character the reader hadn’t seen in the first book. I decided to showcase her empathy for the homeless population and for physically and mentally challenged young people. She was a nun, after all.

Is any of this based on your real life?

Well, as you know, I was never a nun. In fact, I was such a teenage rebel I couldn’t make it through all four years in a Catholic high school and was "invited" by the Mother Superior to transfer to the local public high school for my senior year. It was a huge school, most everyone had been together since grade school, and I had no friends the entire year. But that, as they say, is another story.

Concerning the homeless population, and challenged kids, I have quite often volunteered for an overnight stint in one of the excellent homeless shelters run by our local churches. And after my retirement from McGraw-Hill, I worked part time for a grassroots agency that provided help and support to mentally challenged kids and their parents. Both of these life experiences found their way into “Cuyamaca Beach” and helped to build Bella’s character.

Was the writing process faster for “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach?”

Oh heavens no, my second “child,” took me almost a year and a half to produce a workable draft because of the aforementioned challenges. I wrote “Murder in Los Lobos” in  nine months in a white heat (for me anyway) of creative energy.

Part of the second novel angst was the monkey who sat on my shoulder during the entire process, whispering that I could never repeat the first novel’s success. I’m glad to say that wasn’t true, but that monkey still makes an occasional appearance now that I’m working on the fifth Bella book.
Links you may like:

Tomorrow I’ll discuss publishing and marketing that pesky second novel.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

CHANGING IT UP A BIT by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

If you’ve read my previous books—Little Shepherd and A Christmas Kindness—you’ll get a feel for my writing style. I always liked sweet stories with good messages growing up, and I strongly believe in my publisher’s mission:

Guardian Angel Publishing believes we can change the world by investing in children, one child at a time. We want the seeds of the influence from our books to live longer than we do, building a harvest of knowledge and vibrant faith that will help transform a time we may never see.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret….

Sometimes I like to write different stories. Every once in a while I don’t want to be so serious. 

In 2010, I was in one of those “need to lighten up” moods while participating in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). This annual November event (moving to January in 2017) challenges writers to come up with 30 picture book concepts in 30 days. A lot of silliness came out in those 30 days, including what would become Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving.

My quest to create a book that wasn’t about being thankful led me to contemplate possible holiday disasters. My mind finally settled on…

What if the dog swiped the turkey off the table?

Ten-year-old Macy has to do some quick thinking while her twin brothers are fighting, her poor frazzled mom is sighing, and her naughty dog has been sent off to play with Dad.
I hope readers will enjoy this lighter side of me. You can purchase Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving online at:

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, and the newly released Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving. A blogger and book reviewer, Cheryl lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.
Visit Cheryl online at:

A note from Marilyn: 

Though Cheryl and I live about 3000 miles apart and have never seen one another in person, I feel like I know her. She guided me through several virtual book tours, and we've been prayer warriors for on another along the way of being great Facebook friends.

This is a delightful book for kids--so if you have any you need to get a Christmas gift for, you can't go wrong with this.